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6 Ways to Spot an iPhone App Scam

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

If you’re planning on shopping via your favorite retailer’s smartphone app this holiday season, be sure you’re not setting yourself up for fraud.

Fraudulent app developers are flooding Apple and Android app stores with fake shopping apps just in time for the busy holiday shopping season. Fake apps have posed as legitimate retailers for luxury brands like Moncler, Celine, and Salvatore Ferragamo, the NY Post reports.

It’s hard for experts to tell exactly how many fake apps are present in app stores because they are constantly launching and shutting down, says Ashish Toshniwal, CEO of Y Media Labs, a Silicon Valley-based product design company that has developed apps for big brands such as The North Face, Home Depot, and L’Oreal.

Fake retail apps have been a problem for years, says Toshniwal, but “it gets pretty bad over the holiday season.” Two in three retailers don’t have an iOS or Android app, which has given scammers the opportunity to create fake apps tied to legitimate retailers in hopes of luring in unsuspecting customers.

Making matters more difficult, Apple’s move in September to introduce search ads into its App Store allows developers to buy search terms in order to rank higher when you look for certain words or phrases. That means you might see fakes apps listed ahead of or right next to real apps developed by the brand.

We spoke to industry experts about what you should look for so you don’t get duped by a fake app this holiday season.

Here are 6 signs that a retail app is fake:

You’re not shopping through a trusted app store.

You should only download apps from the official Apple App Store, whether that’s online or on your phone. Some developers may create third-party marketplaces that look very similar to the online App Store, so be sure to check the address bar to avoid those.

If you have any doubts about an app’s legitimacy, go directly to the retailer’s website and see if they promote the app. If they do have an app, they will direct you to the correct source.

The reviews are poor.

If the app you’re considering seems questionable, there is a good chance someone who downloaded it before you might have commented about it. If it’s ripping people off, then someone would have likely noted that in a review.

“Don't be the first to try a retail app out," says Charlie Fairchild, the lead software engineer at WillowTree, a mobile app development company whose list of clients include PepsiCo, AOL, and Time Warner.

There are tons of typos.

Typos can be a dead giveaway that you’re dealing with an app that is not being promoted by a legitimate company.

Take for example, Footlocke Sports Co. Ltd., a fake retailer apparently trying to mimic retailers Foot Locker Retail Inc. or Inc. Generally, the description of fake apps will include typos or incorrect information about the company. So if you see an app for a large brand that seems like a one-off, it could be a red flag.

Also, take a look at screenshots before you download the app (most apps have to include screenshots in the app store). If the screenshots are fuzzy or look low quality, steer clear.

The company only has one app.

The app you’re considering will be connected to a developer’s page where you’ll be able to see all of the apps that company or individual currently has in the marketplace.

Generally speaking, the more apps the company has, the higher chance it’s legitimate. Fakes are more of a problem for brands that don’t have much of an app presence. Dillards, for example, doesn’t have a retail app, but it is a big brand. So it may be more susceptible to fraudsters who would abuse that brand.

“Fake companies tend to not release a lot of apps under the same name because of the chances of them getting shut down,” Toshniwal says.

While there are many brands that have developed only one app, some large companies, such as The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo, develop many apps for all of the company’s brands. Because the company has made that investment, they are more likely to have a team that monitors activity in the marketplace and flags fake accounts trying to misuse the brand.

They ask for too much information.

Some apps go even further than stealing your credit card information; they may also ask for permissions to access your photos, contacts, location, or social media profiles as well.

For a simple retail shopping app, there is generally no need for an app to access your contacts or images in order for you to buy something from them. If you absentmindedly agree to a permission without reading the request, you may grant access to information or files that could be harmful to you or others you are connected to.

There are lots of annoying pop-ups.

Lastly, stay vigilant for any sketchy activity when you’re using the application. That could mean an unusual amount of ads or pop-up forms, unusually priced items, a lack of contact information, or anything else that seems off.
Don’t chance your sensitive information this holiday season. If you think you’ve downloaded a fake app, delete it immediately, and report it to Apple or Google so it can be removed.


Brittney Laryea
Brittney Laryea |

Brittney Laryea is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brittney at


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Consumer Watchdog: The IRS Reveals Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

The IRS Reveals Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

Updated for 2016

Tax time is high season for scams and identity theft. In fact, tax-refund fraud is expected to hit $21 billion this year. We’ve alerted you to some of the tactics crooks use during tax season like pretending to call as an IRS agent demanding payment, email scams saying your tax payment got rejected or that you owe back taxes, or simply stealing your W2 then filing your tax return and routing your refund to another bank account. The IRS also has its own list of 12 scams used to part you with your hard-earned money (or that they think you might be tempted to do).

We want you to be aware of every way a thief might try to take advantage of you during the often frustrating and trying time of filing taxes.

Here are the Dirty Dozen tax scams from the IRS:

1. Phone Scams

This scam is the most prevalent way a crook will try to use tax time to get your money. A fraudster will call you impersonating an IRS officer claiming you owe more money (or back taxes) and need to pay it now or risk being arrested, deported, getting your driver’s license revoked or whatever clever scare tactic he can come up with. Stay calm, never give out personal information and immediately hang up and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484 and file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant (choose “Other” and then “Impostor Scams”).

[Learn how to protect yourself from tax scams here.]

2. Phishing

If it smells fishy, it probably is! The IRS won’t send you an email out of the blue about a refund or back taxes. In fact, first contact from the IRS almost always still comes via snail mail and not email or phone. If you get an email claiming to be from the IRS, don’t click any links until you contact the IRS directly to confirm it’s valid. The crooks are looking to steal your personal information.

[Read more about how to protect against Phishing Scams here.]

3. Identity Theft

Getting your identity stolen at any point during the year is a major hassle and could be costly. But getting your identity stolen at tax time is probably because a crook is filing for a tax return using your name and getting your refund first (or a fake version of your refund). One of the best ways to defend against this is to file your taxes as early as possible. Also be sure to track all your W2 or 1099 forms and reach out to an employer immediately if you haven't received your forms by early February. Crooks are not above stealing your tax forms and using them to file.

[Learn how to prevent and deal with identity theft here.]

4. Return Preparer Fraud

Looking for a good deal is great, but don’t go to cheap tax preparer (accountant) if he or she isn’t credible. Do your due diligence before giving over all your personal information to an accountant. Unfortunately, some of them use tax season as a chance to steal people’s identities.

5. Offshore Tax Avoidance

This one is on you. Don’t hide your money offshore, because you’ll be paying big time when Uncle Sam tracks it down. You can voluntarily admit to having an offshore account (even if you had one by accident – perhaps while working internationally) through the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.

6. Inflated Refund Claims

It’s fine if a tax prep software company promises the biggest return compared to competitors, but don’t trust anyone claiming to get you an inflated refund. Never sign a blank return and be wary of anyone promising a big return without even looking at your information. Also, don’t agree to pay fees based on a percentage of a refund. This scam is typically perpetuated via word of mouth, flyers in storefronts and targets community and church groups.

7. Fake Charities

Check out any charity before donating. This is good practice year-round, but fake charities become especially popular during tax season to prey on people receiving refunds. Use tools like to see if a charity is legit.

8. Hiding Income with Fake Documents

Much like hiding money offshore – this tax scam is on you to avoid. Don’t attempt to fake taxable income by filing false Form 1099s or other documents to inflate your tax refund. You are legally responsible for what is on your returns, regardless of who prepares them.

9. Abusive Tax Shelters

The IRS is committed to cracking down on abusive tax structures/ tax avoidance schemes and persecuting people who create and sell them. Be wary of anyone pushing tax shelters that sound like a great deal.

10. Falsifying Income to Claim Credits

Just report what you’ve earned. It’s really basic. Falsifying your income in anyway will not end well for you, no matter what a con artist tells you.

11. Excessive Claims for Fuel Tax Credits

Some prepares may try to talk you into making a fuel tax credit claim on your return. Be wary! The fuel tax credit is generally limited to off-highway business use, typically for farming. If you aren’t a farmer, it’s doubtful this tax credit is for you.

12. Frivolous Tax Arguments

Yes, you have the right to contest your tax liabilities in court. But don’t let a scam artist sell you snake oil. Often times frivolous tax arguments not only fail to hold up in court but filing a frivolous tax return results in a penalty of $5,000.

Be sure to check out the Dirty Dozen tax scams directly on and contact the IRS and FTC directly if you believe you’ve been a victim of a tax scam.

Think You're a Victim of a Tax Scam?

Scams need to be reported immediately to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can also hear an example of a scam IRS call here.

Erin Lowry
Erin Lowry |

Erin Lowry is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at

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Protect Yourself from Tax Scams

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


Tax return check

Updated for 2016

Tax time is coming which means crooks are looking to part you and your money. There are a myriad of tax scams, but two of the most common right now are early filing and fraudulent calls.

File Early to Protect Yourself

Consider this scenario: you put off filing your taxes until April. You go through filling out all the information with your preferred tax filing software and as you click the final submit button a screen tells you that you've already filed and received your refund.

There is a rise of scammers using personal information to file early and steal refunds. In fact, it's predicted tax-refund scams will net $21 billion by this year.

The best way to prevent your return from being stolen is to file as soon as your tax documents arrive.

Decoding a Fake Call Scam

Another common scam comes in the form of fake calls or threatening text messages claiming to be the IRS. Often, the caller/texter will demand the taxpayer makes a payment to the IRS or face being arrested, deported, or suspension of a driver’s license.

Crooks ask for money to be sent via wire transfer or a pre-paid card. This money is nearly impossible to recover once it’s sent, so victims who do give into the demands are likely to never see the money again.

The IRS issued a statement in 2013 stating the agency never asks for credit card numbers over the phone nor requests pre-paid debit card or wire transfers. In fact, the first communication about a tax-related issue is through the mail.

These scammers sure aren’t rookies though. In 2013 the IRS reported some of the characteristics of these scams include sophisticated tactics to convince potential victims the IRS was indeed calling.

Here are some characteristics of the call scam:

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security Number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim

Information found in a 2013 IRS press release

What to do if you receive an phone call from the IRS you suspect is a phony:

  • First, stay polite but firm on the phone (just in case it really is the IRS). Say you have heard IRS scams are prevalent and you’ll need to ensure this isn’t a scam by reaching out yourself to the IRS and then hang up.
  • Second, if you’re sure you don’t owe any additional taxes to the IRS, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
  • If you think you may actually owe back taxes to the IRS, call the IRS directly at 1.800.829.1040 and work with an employee to pay back what you owe.
  • Be sure to report the scam by filing a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Impostor Scams.” Be sure to note if it included an IRS impostor by writing “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

Tips taken from

Don’t Download Email Attachments

Stay vigilant about email scams as well. Any email that’s sent to you claiming your tax payment was rejected or you owe back taxes need to be verified before clicking on links or downloading attachments that likely contain malware. Call the IRS directly to see if the email is legitimate.

Protect Your W2

Thieves can also use mail theft to wreak havoc on your financial life. A W2 or 1099 features nearly all the information an identity thief would need to impersonate you. Social Security number, check. Address, check. Full name, check. Employer and salary, check, check.

Because of this, it’s not uncommon for thieves to pull tax forms right out of the mail.

Your employer was required by law to send you tax forms by February 1, 2016

Keep a list throughout the year of companies that should be sending you a W2 or 1099. If you don't receive your documents by February 8, 2016 -- then be sure to reach out and inquiry when you should expect your tax forms and ensure they were sent to the correct address.

If you’re concerned your identity may have been compromised, you can put a credit alert or credit freeze on your credit report with all three bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). You can also download your credit reports for free to look for any suspicious activity at

Don’t wait to report scams 

Scams need to be reported immediately to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can also hear an example of a scam IRS call here.

Erin Lowry
Erin Lowry |

Erin Lowry is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at


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Hackers Steal One Billion Dollars From Banks

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One thing is certain: bank theft is becoming bigger, and bank fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated. Just this week, Kaspersky Lab, a Russian security company, released a report that alleged a global crime ring stole up to $1 billion from banks globally.

The criminals would use phishing and other methods to gain access to bank systems. Over time, they would learn about the internal control processes of the banks, which included isolating the process weaknesses. They would then proceed to steal, but never too much from any one bank. The amount of money stolen from each bank was typically less than $10 million. They targeted banks around the world, including in Europe and the Americas.

There are stories of ATMs that just started spitting out cash, as they were controlled remotely by a Russian crime ring. And there are even stories of the criminals setting up video surveillance of banks, leveraging the cameras in bank computers that were hacked.

The sheer size and scale of this operation is impressive. They have quietly stolen nearly $1 billion, without creating too big of a commotion for any individual bank. And they meticulously learned the internal procedures of hundreds of banks, patiently waiting to exploit weaknesses.

Despite the increasing technological prowess of many criminals, old-fashioned phishing and poorly designed internal procedures remain some of the biggest risks for the banking sector. Another report from Kapersky reveals that 28.8% of phishing attacks were aimed at stealing financial data from customers.

Phishing is "a type of internet fraud that is used by cybercriminals to lure users into providing their data (account logins and other personal information) by creating fake Web pages to imitate popular online resources." And, although Macs have historically been safer, Kapersky reports an increase in financial phishing attacks against Mac OS X users in recent years.

Protecting yourself from phishing scams is becoming more challenging, as the fraudsters become more sophisticated. Be very cautious before clicking on a link in an email - especially if they ask for personal information, including login and password information. And the best way to prevent fraud in your bank accounts is to take full advantage of the fraud protection measures offered by banks. These include increased security measures for adding payees online, email and text alerts for transactions, regular emails that show your balance and downloading apps that provide regular updates on your account activity.

Fraud will continue to increase, with particular attention on banking. Although banks will be working to increase their defenses, you are ultimately responsible for protecting yourself. Make sure you only share your personal information with trusted and verified third parties, and sign up for all protections available from your bank. Fraud will likely happen once in your life: you need to be prepared, and minimize the impact.

Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at

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Fine Print Alert

Fine Print Alert: Beware of Buying Gift Cards and Falling Victim to Santa Scams

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


In our weekly Fine Print Alert we call out any good news from the financial community and shine a spotlight on any sneaky changes in the fine print. We also share our favorite reads from the week.


Be careful with gift cards…

The holiday season means a lot of people will be purchasing (and receiving) gift cards. Be careful this year when you purchase gift cards – especially cash gift cards – to ensure you keep the most money in your pocket and avoid fees for the gift’s receiver.

Consumer Education Specialist Alvaor Puig recommends following these steps to avoid gift card traps and tricks:

  • Are there fees to buy or use the card? Read that tiny print to find out what kind of deal you’re giving – or getting.
  • Does the card’s packaging look OK? Inspect it to be sure. If the PIN is showing, a thief might already have it – which could mean the thief can get any money you load onto the card.
  • Buying gift cards through online auction sites? Those could be fakes. Stick to sources you know and trust.
  • Sending a store card to a friend in another city or town? Make sure that store is close enough for him to shop there.

Read more tips at National Consumer Protection Week (

Santa may be scamming you…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, scam sites have popped up to con unsuspecting parents into forking over credit card numbers in exchange for a nice Santa letter that never arrives. The Better Business Bureau issued an alert, warning parents not to share personal information on sites and ignore emails being sent directly to accounts. Instead, make sure a payment is through a secure connection and note any poor grammar or misspelled words on the website. You can also look for the Better Business Bureau on the website to see that’s verified or look it up on the Then again, you can always just hand make your own letter to be 100% sure your information won’t be stolen.

Our blog provides more details about how to prevent falling victim to a Santa scam.



Story of the high school day trader making $72 million fails the smell test What Islam is claiming lies somewhere along the lines of Charles Ponzi's scheme and stories of Paul Bunyon forming Minnesota's 10,000 Lakes with his massive footsteps. Islam is claiming alchemical abilities and publications that should know better are running the story with barely a disclaimer in sight. Jeff Macke covers the story for Yahoo! Finance. 

6 Things You Should Do With Your Holiday Bonus Now, there is always that heavy temptation to buy something really fun, like a super expensive pair of shoes. But while a splurge is sometimes ok, you may want to consider using that money in other ways. Here are a few of our best suggestions. Meredith Lepore shares six tips on Go Girl Finance.

How Media Makes More Money Publishing About Fake Self-Made Millionaires, Whiz Kids Every now and then, a story would catch my eye. It was someone like me; passionate about the markets, but they were making boatloads of cash. They made me jealous, and I wondered how I could emulate their success. That was until I realized most were fake, underreported, and often, downright lies. These were hardly the role models I should’ve been following. Today, I wanted to point out a few recent stories that highlighted frauds — willingly and with seriously poor reporting. Sam Lustgarten shares his take on trumped up investor stories on his site Frugaling.

How to Spend the Remaining Balance On Your Cash Gift Cards Have you ever tried to use the last remaining balance of a cash gift card – only to have it rejected by the cashier during check-out? Or, you just have a few tiny amounts left on some leftover cash cards you got from your birthday? Here’s an easy way to get those balances off your card and to good use. I’ve written about this before – but thought I would repost for those of you who may have missed it. Check out this neat hack from Aaron at Three Thrifty Guys.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Magnify_Money and on Facebook.

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Erin Lowry
Erin Lowry |

Erin Lowry is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at

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Fine Print Alert

Fine Print Alert: Fee for Mobile Deposits and Examining Walmart’s Credit Card

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


In our weekly Fine Print Alert we call out any good news from the financial community and shine a spotlight on any sneaky changes in the fine print. We also share our favorite reads from the week.


Fees on mobile check deposit…

Pew Charitable Trust released a report on the terms and conditions of mobile remote deposit capture (aka: depositing checks using your mobile device). Pew found of the 37 banks surveyed, 28 of them offer mobile remote deposit capture (mRDC) free of charge. Three of the banks do have a fee, but two will waive it under certain conditions (similar to a maintenance fee on a checking account). One bank has a variable pricing structure to provide customers with faster access to their money. The fee ranges from 50 cents to 3 percent of the deposit. In addition, five banks do not disclose the price of mRDC services. While Pew didn’t name names in their report, the MagnifyMoney team will be looking to see which banks charge a fee.

Remember, if you’re going to deposit a check using your smartphone, first read the fine print to see if your bank charges you.

Walmart Holiday Credit Card Deal Fine Print…

If you watch TV at all, you’ve probably seen the commercials with Melissa Joan Hart and Anthony Anderson promoting Walmart's credit card deal this holiday season.

Anderson proclaims you can get up to $35 back while Hart preps an extra large stocking for Santa to fill with presents purchased with “all those great savings.”

If you’re tempted to get the card for the $35 bonus, then keep these fine print items in mind:

  • You need to spend $75 in one go at Walmart the same day you open the card in order to get the first $25.
  • Cash advances, gift card sales, money orders, and gas purchases don’t qualify.
  • The bonus is paid as a statement credit
  • The $10 bonus is received when you make $75 worth of purchases in one day within 60 days of opening the card.
  • Offer is only valid until December 31, 2014
  • APR is 22.9% - this is very high. If you can’t afford to pay off your $150 of purchases and just keep paying the minimum, you’ll end up paying back your $35 bonus in interest.

Phony Mortgage Relief Scam….

The FTC cracked down on 22 defendants who violated the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule (MARS). These fraudsters offered Americans facing financial difficulties a fake home-loan modification service. If you feel you’ve been a victim of this crime, please contact the FTC.



Avoid These 3 Side Hustle Money Mistakes There’s a lot of advice out there that says “Follow your passion and the money will figure itself out.” While this is true to some extent, we still have financial realities to deal with when starting a side hustle. Financial stuff that, unfortunately, a lot of people don’t think about until they have a hot mess on their hands. Find the full article on Money Under 30.

3 Financial Things To Do Before The End Of The Year It’s hard to believe we only have a few short weeks until the end of the year. It’s down to the wire on getting our financial houses in place before New Year’s Day. Hopefully everyone can take a few minutes away from eggnog and holiday festivities to make sure we’ve made the best choices with our money. Here are three things I believe are worth doing before the end of the year. Find out what they are on Eyes On The Dollar.

Modern Family Finances For decades the classic financial planning playbook has been based on a set of common assumptions: A man and woman meet, fall in love, marry, have kids, and build a life together. These days, however, millions of families find themselves following a different pattern that calls for new strategies. Over the past few decades huge demographic shifts have reshaped the American family to include blended households like the Chaneys, married gay couples, single parents, unmarried partners living together, and myriad other permutations. TIME Money offers a guidebook for most of today’s modern families.

Should You Go to the Best College Regardless of Cost? There have been a few moments in my career where I’ve been offered a job or an opportunity because I attended William and Mary. The real benefit though was in the connections I made. Many of my classmates went on to be very successful, and some of them have helped me along the way on various occasions. This could be said of many schools though. Cat of Budget Blonde shares her views on Frugal Rules.

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter @Magnify_Money and on Facebook.

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Erin Lowry
Erin Lowry |

Erin Lowry is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at

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Consumer Watchdog

Consumer Watchdog: Password Protect Your Phone

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


Last weekend, I picked up my friend’s phone to make a phone call. I swiped right to open up the screen and expected to be blocked by a passcode request. I started to say, “Hey – put in your passcode,” but realized I’d accessed her phone without any sort of blockade. Looking up I said, “You should really password protect your phone.” “Why,” she inquired? “Well, if someone stole it, you’re making it incredibly easy for them to get access to all your financial information,” I responded.

Less than a day later, we were leaving my apartment when she realized her phone was missing. We mentally retraced our steps before realizing she’d left it in the booth where we’d eaten brunch. I hastily called the restaurant and discovered they’d found the phone. As we walked back to the restaurant, I, in a bit of an “I told you so voice” mentioned this moment is why you password-protect your phone.

Massive technology hacks, like the breach of credit card numbers from Target or even the most recent leak of celebrities’ intimate photos being stolen through their iClouds, makes us realize our personal information is incredibly vulnerable.

With so much of our lives stored on our phones, tablets and computers, it’s important to be proactive about setting up as many roadblocks as possible for potential thieves and hackers.

Why it would be easy for a thief to access your financial life

Bank app

The rise of Internet-only banking and bank-related apps have made our financial lives much simpler, but those same apps could cost us dearly if our tech products are compromised.

Typically, bank apps or sites won’t allow you to stay logged in, so if a thief gets ahold of your phone, he will need to figure out your login information and password in order to access your bank account.

If you have your email synced to your phone, or automatically open on your computer or tablet – which most people do – then you’ve just made the thief’s ability to get into your bank account incredibly easy.


A thief can simply click “forgot password” or “forgot User ID” and use your email to get access to your bank account.

He could reset your email password to lock you out and guarantee his access, while also changing your bank password.

Once inside your bank account, he could easily wire transfer your assets to another account or, if he has access to your debit card, change your pins so he can withdraw money.

Payment apps

Certain payment apps, like Venmo, don’t require you to submit a password each time you make a transaction.

If you have a Venmo account and app, a thief could use it to transfer money from your account into his own account.? With access to your email, he could also change your password to lock you out. Venmo does enable people to deactivate access to their account from a computer, should their phone get stolen. But, if you can’t get access to your account because a password was changed, this would be tough to change.

Granted, if a thief drained a bank account by wire transferring it to his own, it would be pretty simple to identify a perpetrator. He could used a fake name and account, but the average petty thief may not have such technical skills to do this before you go on the defensive.

What if your phone, tablet or computer is stolen?

Get in touch with your bank and any financial insinuations/apps you use to notify them of a security breech with your account(s).

Apple users who have enabled “Find My Phone” can track their device – assuming it’s online. They can also remotely wipe everything off their phone, so thieves don’t have access to bank accounts, email or any other personal information. Once you erase all the information off the phone, you will no longer be able to track the device, but buying another iPhone will likely be cheaper than the damage a thief could do if he has access to your bank accounts.

Android users can also use a find my phone service through the Android Device Manager, but unfortunately there isn’t a way to remotely wipe data off the phone.

As soon as your device is stolen, change all your passwords for email, financial institutions, and in the case of Apple users, the iCloud. Report the device stolen to your carrier and the police.

Ultimately, a thief can likely get around the password (or passcode) on your device, but hopefully it will give you enough time to get to another computer or phone to change important passwords, wipe your phone and protect yourself.

If you have questions or a tip, then reach out via Twitter, Facebook, email or in the comment section below!

Erin Lowry
Erin Lowry |

Erin Lowry is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at